Tag Archives: tech

Hard Drives for the Non Techy Minded

I got duped! Kinda… Bad case of should have known better.

OK a quick run down of the difference between laptop hard drives for the non tech minded among you. It may help some of you on future purchases.

The first type of laptop hard drive is a traditional old style mechanical drive. They have several disks in them, like CDs, which record your data. The are heavy, they do not like being moved while the disks are spinning and are slow compared to modern hard drives. They can also get hot with constant use and contribute to your laptops heat output. They are however easy to to change with a universal Sata connection, can be upgraded to a 2.5″ SSD drive at a later date, and cheap!

£50 for a 1 Terrayte old style mechanical hard drive.

The next type is a 2.5″ SSD drive (Solid State Drive). A long time ago they were considered unreliable. I never experienced unreliable SSD drives. They are fast. Seriously fast. The Sandisk Ultra has a read / write speed over 10 times faster than the Samsung listed above. I notice the difference the most starting up a PC and starting programs. An old style mechanical drive took 14 secounds to open an A1 300dpi poster I was working on. The SSD drive had it open in 3 secounds. The also have Sata connections so can replace your mechanical Sata drive and as they do not having any moving parts, they do not heat up like mechanical hard drives. The downside is however is the price.

£170 for a 960gb Sandisk Utra SSD.

There are also hybrids available, which are a mix of the two. Its a good idea as they try to store your most used files and programs on a small SSD drive within a mechanical drive, so the programs and files you use regularly open quickly. Its also a lot cheaper than an SSD drive. They have Sata connections so can replace any other Sata hard drive. I am not a fan though. I did not see the great gains promised from mine, and to be honest, if you can wait it out, you can get a 1 TB SSD in a sale for £100.

£70 for a Toshiba Hybrid Drive.

EMMC drives are feckin pointless. OK, maybe not entirely pointless, but I cannot stand them. An EMMC drive is a small chip, embedded onto your laptops motherboard. 99% of the time they cannot be removed or replaced. The advantages are they are tiny and lightweight and cheap to manufacture, this makes them great for things like Chromebooks. They are often referred to as SSD drives. They are technically solid state drives as they have no moving parts. However, they rarely go above 32gb in size, they are often slower than mechanical hard drives, and I repeat, usually cannot be replaced.

£125 Lenovo Chromebook with an EMMC

The last kind is PCIe memory. These are tiny solid state hard drives that have their own connection type. They are lightweight and have no moving parts so fairly cool. They are also blisteringly fast. Faster than the SSD drives I mentioned above. This is because they do not have a Sata connection, they have the potentially faster PCIe connection. I can turn the new laptop on and start using Firefox withing 5 secounds. They cannot however be swapped with any drive. If you get a laptop with a PCIe hard drive, at the moment, you can only upgrade it with a PCIe hard drive. That can be off putting when you see the price. This often limits you to smaller hard drives. If you are a graphics designer, video editor or gamer, they become cost prohibitive.

£599 for a 1TB PCIe hard drive.

So as you can see above, there are 3 solid state drives (SSD), and I fell for the dupe in PCWorld where I was told the laptop had an SSD drive and could be upgraded, which it can be. He just did not tell me it was a PCIe drive and would cost a fortune to do. Oh well, live, learn, and teach others to not make the same mistake.

I am still happy with my HP Pavillion 360 though. 🙂

Logitech Ultra Thin Mouse

logitch ultra thin mouse

Holy crap I love this thing. I got it from PC world when it first came out, it is available on Amazon here.

Its super smooth, like a pebble under your hand. The mouse button is sort of on the underside, and it has a right and left click when you press where the buttons should be. You scroll by moving your finger over the mouse like you would a scroll wheel, its touch sensitive. It connects via blue tooth and works with every PC and Android device I have tried it with. Its ultra portable and fits in the little pockets in laptop & tablet bags. You can pair it with 2 different devices, it lasts months of a single charge and quite frankly, for a mouse, it looks quite sexy.

The only downsides I could say is that its buttons make loud clicks and the USB charger point is on the bottom so you cannot charge it and use it.

Neither of those are downsides. Unless you live with someone OCD about silence, they may kill you about the clicks. Being killed is definitely a downside.

The Search for a Laptop

My Medion Akoya is 4 years old, the battery died long ago, the WiFi card is burnt out and the LAN port wont hold the cable. It got an upgrade of a 960 GB Sandisk Ultra SSD and 8 GB of Ram, so it is quite nippy, but there’s no denying its dying.

I use my netbook for work and home, its mainly used to browse the web, blog, email and occasional graphics design using GIMP and Inkscape. A minor quandary follows.

I tried a few laptops in PC world and found for a good fast laptop with a nice screen you need to spend £600+. I would want at least a high end i5 laptop with 8gb of ram, such as the HP Envy.

The alternative is a high end 10 inch tablet such as the MediPad M2, for as little as £288, with a blisteringly fast web browsing experience and fantastic screen. Add a bluetooth keyboard and mouse, and your sorted. Kinda. That would mean I had no GIMP or Inkscape as its Android.

The ARM processors and lack of dedicated graphics cards makes Android so cheap compared to laptops but the software’s not quite there yet. Is it worth paying half the price for something that ‘isn’t quite there yet’?

I doubt it.

My search for a new laptop continues.